Tag Archives: beauty

the beauty list.

I must admit, I am the girl who could research beauty products for hours on end. Reading about the essentials for healthy hair and great skin could get me lost for hours + I want to hear real life stories about the potential of a product, so reviews are my greatest friend. Unlike my occasional clothing binge at Zara, before I add something to my beauty cabinet or shower shelf, I create a logical reason why it is a necessary purchase.

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I am so excited to share with you the top three beauty products that are my current live-withouts:

Lush Silky Underwear Dusting Powder
This body powder aka healthy perfume is my safety blanket. I love to travel with it, and I put it on under my arms before I put on my deodorant for extra freshness. Not to mention, it is the most calming after-shower scent before I get in bed. P.S. This is one of my favorite gift additions for my girlfriends (or it is the cutest stocking stuffer)!

Philip Kingsley Elasticizer
You guys. This pre-shampoo treatment has truly changed my hair. I have possibly tried every hair care product in the book, and I have never experienced such significant change in my locks! It drastically improved the strength of my hair + extra bonus: it has caused my hair to grow so fast! The way it works: mask this on your locks for 10-20 minutes before shampooing.

Rita Hazan Triple Threat Split End Therapy
This product is truly magical. I remember reading reviews mentioning it’s ability to never need a hair cut again after using this potion, so I couldn’t help but add it to my cart. After just a few days of pumping a dime-size amount of the cream into my hands and working it through my locks, I noticed less and less dry ends AKA diminishing split ends. The trick is that the cream seals, repairs, and protects, so it’s proactive and reactive. I love their shampoo and condition too – they are specified for colored hair and heavily moisturize without weighing hair down!

While We Wait

“Everything will work out in the end”: a phrase we all have heard muttered to us at one point in our lives. I am the first to say that patience is not an attribute that I have been blessed with. When I want something, I want it immediately. When I want something to happen, I do everything in my power to make it happen as soon as possible. But even still, I have always trusted the quiet work of time. I believe that with time, we gain the healing that we need, we acquire understanding that may not have been known otherwise, we learn infinitely more about ourselves, and we grow undoubtedly more compassionate about the world around us. But as I wait for the nature of time to allow things fall into place, I often find myself wondering, “What do I do in the meantime?” It is completely against my nature to sit back and allow things to happen. I want to do something, I want to work at something, and I want to know that with whatever I am working for, there is an end goal in sight.

So, what do we do in the meantime? What do we do when we cannot do anything at all? Throughout this past year, I have learned to let time run its course. It has been both necessarily humbling and completely frustrating. But, in my moments of restlessness, I have learned that letting go has freed me to gain far more than I could have ever dreamed of. A year ago, I found myself in an LSAT prep course. I spent my summer days taking practice tests, attending online classroom tutorials, watching videos, learning skill sets, researching top law schools, and crunching numbers that would ultimately determine where I would lie on a spectrum of students all hoping to achieve the same thing. About halfway through the course, and few months before the test date, I decided that I did not want to attend law school after all. While I felt convicted that pursuing a law degree was not what I wanted to do, I forced myself to keep trying it. Though I wish I could say it was the drive of perseverance that kept me to my studies longer than I wished to be, it was actually the fear of not knowing what I would be doing otherwise. My fear, instead of my passion, was driving my decision to stay in that LSAT prep course. For me, this path held a somewhat known four years ahead of me. I would study for the test, take the test, work in the meantime, apply to schools. Then, I would choose, from a hopeful competitive batch of schools, the perfect school for me. After that, I would spend three years in school, learning, working, experience the legal world. I knew what was ahead of me. But, if I followed my heart, if I listened to my instinct that was steering me away from those known four years, consequently leaping into the unknown, I would land in exactly that: pure, raw, dark unknown. “What would I do?”, “Who would I be?”, “Who would I become?” were some of the questions that plagued me during this inner battle with myself in trusting and following my heart or living in security.

What I was not aware of, though, was the outflowing amount of opportunity that lay ahead of me in my decision to follow my heart and leave my fear behind. Today, I am preparing to move to London, to attend graduate school at London School of Economics, and to begin my journey towards a career in journalism. In hindsight, I can confidently say that with time, everything worked out the way it was supposed to. Before graduating college, I would have never pictured myself living in London, pursuing journalism, or even writing for a blog in the year after graduation. And although everything worked out better than I could have ever imagined it to be, I still had moments of doubt, times of restlessness, and instinctively found myself wondering, “Well, what do I do now?” But, those quiet moments taught me that what I found my security in was not sufficient for the longing in my heart. I had to learn to allow my sense of security heed to the will of my heart.

You see, we often idolize our sense of security. We find ourselves worthwhile when we have a security in our futures. We attribute value to ourselves when we are actively pursuing our futures. On the contrary, we wallow when we cannot actively do anything, when we lose control, when things are out of our hands. But, the truth is, our best prediction of what our future holds does not nearly reflect any amount of our worth. You are worthy whether or not you are pursuing your dreams. You are worthy even in the midst of the chaos and calamity of the unknown. You are worthy while you wait to figure it out- whatever that “it” may be. You are worthy even when you do not have anything figured out at all. You are worthy.

So, as you wait, as you ponder, as you rest, as you feel helpless, and as you begin to dream again, let your worth be found in the strength of who you are. As you wait, let your spirit be free in the person you know yourself to be, instead of the future you think you ought to achieve. Believe in your worth- not because you have carefully mapped out the next five years of your life, but because your life, thus far, has created a uniquely beautiful, strong, and worthy person. Believe in yourself today- because you stand confidently and wholly loved in who you are today more than any other future “you” that you could possibly dream up. While you wait, believe that you are the truest “you” that you could be and that you stand distinguished exactly where you are, not wherever you think you ought to be.

Sparing Change

I will be the first to admit that I hate change. Personally, I believe that most of us, to some degree, hate change. While some of us cope with it better than others, I err on the side of trying to ignore change into nonexistence. Needless to say, it does not work for me. But, in this whirlwind year of post-grad, I have been learning not only to cope with change, but to look forward to all that it may bring.

Almost two weeks ago, my oldest sister got married. She married the man of her dreams, her boyfriend of nearly ten years and, in what seemed to be only a few weeks, she bought a new place, set up her new home, and moved in with her new husband. This short period of time before her wedding day was filled with beautiful and treasurable new additions- a new brother, a new home to visit, a new life to admire, and a new union to wholeheartedly celebrate. But, it was also a time that I mourned because my oldest sister, my role model, my roommate of twenty-three years, and my best friend was moving out of our home. It was a lot of change to handle, especially for someone who unashamedly and admittedly hates change. But, as I learned to accept the inevitable, the unchangeable, I learned to be okay with change. Then, the unexpected happened: I learned to grow comfortable with change.

So, why does change scare us so much? We hate change because it is unfamiliar- we have nothing to compare it to, nothing to judge it by, and we are uncertain of its outcomes. We also are uncomfortable with change because we grow comfortable and secure, instead, in our own perception of “normal”, in what we have created our own normal to be. But, when we begin to accept the inevitability of change, we also begin to open ourselves to all the opportunity that change will bring into our lives. As we grow more comfortable with change, as we begin to hate change less and less, we may begin to notice positive outcomes of change in our lives. You see, change is scary, but wholly necessary, because it shifts and sometimes altogether redefines our normal. But, in altering our sense of security, change causes us to accept and create new normals for ourselves. It allows us to adapt to different circumstances. Without change, we would never be challenged to thrive in newness, we may never grow to trust uncertainty, and we may never realize our potential beyond our own understanding. Change is good because it unlocks a growth we would never choose for ourselves- a growth that is uncomfortable, new, and incomparable, but a growth that is wholly necessary in order for us to experience new depths in all relationships and experiences in our lives.

This change is good because it opens our eyes to an otherwise unseen world around us, a new order, an alternate way of life, or otherwise hidden opportunities. Change is good for us because it forces us to accept new normalcies for our lives, normalcies that take us in new directions and help us to uncover new meanings. If it were not for forceful and inevitable change in our lives, we would grow so accustomed to the normalcy of our lives that we would not look for or be interested in anything else. But, inevitable change shifts our focus and realigns our gaze to things, people, and experiences that we may not have looked to otherwise. Change causes us to adapt to creating new normalcies and to relying on the process of normalizing new things, new places, and new people. Change opens our eyes and our hearts to a world that encompasses vastly more than the parameters that hold our individually crafted sense of normalcy.

Leo Tolstoy once said, “The changes in our life must come from the impossibility to live otherwise than according to the demands of our conscience not from our mental resolution to try a new form of life.” In wrapping my mind around this concept of change, I have thought of someone asking you, “Can you spare me some change?” When someone asks us this, we willingly, and usually unquestioningly, offer them the change they need- a few dimes, a nickel, a quarter. But what if we learned to spare change in our own lives? What if we learned to preserve it, to accept it, and to allow it to offer us all of the experiences, places, people, and things that we would not have been open to otherwise? What, then, would sparing change, embracing change, look like for each of us? Might we begin to make room in our lives to spare some change? And, might we allow that change to recreate new normalcies? I believe that we can. I believe that we can begin to grow comfortable and accepting of all the vastly different forms of change in our lives- the good, the bad, the enjoyable, the necessary. And, as we begin to accept change, I believe that we will grow to allow ourselves to adapt to new normalcies and to accept all the outcomes, good and bad, unexpected and expected, wholly beautiful and incomparable, that this change will bring us.

A Vow from a Bridesmaid’s Point of View

As we begin to approach the warm months of summer, wedding season comes into full swing. Some of us may find ourselves at a certain stage of life where “wedding season” seems to be in no particular season at all; instead, we attend, or we find ourselves a part of, weddings all year round. But, this coming Sunday brings about a particularly significant wedding among all the rest: my sister’s wedding. My family and I have been eagerly awaiting this day since my sister’s fiancé asked her to marry him almost five months ago. But, the truth is, our family has been looking forward to this union of theirs for the entirety of a  near ten years of their relationship.

I have found this season of their engagement to be unlike any other. It has been filled with joy, love, bliss, and excitement. Parallelling the incandescent moments of happiness, however, were certain stressful and overwhelming moments as we worked to lock in every detail of the day’s festivities. Throughout this time, I watched my sister work through details and make plans, all while learning the curves of planning a wedding in the first place. Still, I was amazed to see it all come together. I watched florists, caterers, wedding coordinators all come together, working with each other’s preferences, styles, and creative outlets for the best interest of the bride. I witnessed parents, pastors, mentors, and friends step alongside my sister and her fiancé in the planning process- offering them advice, giving them their support, and loving them by serving them in this somewhat hectic but wholly beautiful stage of life. I observed my sister and her husband-to-be grow closer together, working through differences of opinion, resolving conflict, celebrating roadmarks, reflecting on memories of their relationship, and cherishing the love they have built for themselves over the course of the past ten years. Over the past few weeks, especially, I have been able to watch them build their new home where they will begin to build the rest of their lives.

As I prepare to stand alongside my sister on her special day, I cannot help but reflect on her union with her husband from my point of view, a newfound perspective that will forever shed light on my presence as a wedding guest. You see, guests, bridesmaids, groomsmen, officiators, caterers, coordinators, et cetera, are hand selected by the bride and groom to be a part of their special day. On the day of the wedding, all of the staff have to work together as a team to make sure that everything runs smoothly, that flowers, centerpieces, and place settings are displayed to honor the couple’s taste, that the music brings guests and family together to celebrate the happiness of the day, and that every detail reflects the beauty and sentiment of the celebration. But, this teamwork, this support system, exists long after the bride and groom drive away, the lights are turned off, the chairs and tables are put away, and the final candle is blown out. You see, our support for the celebrated couple existed long before any wedding event and it will be just as essential as anniversaries come five, ten, twenty-five, fiftyfold. Attending their wedding day, then, is a reflection of not only the union that we have watched them form, but of the support we will continue to adorn them for the rest of their lives. So, a wedding day not only signifies the beginning of a deeper union between the bride and groom, themselves, but a union that we as the guests form with the couple. From where we stand, we extend our hands to them, we witness the commitment they make to each other, we promise to hold them accountable to their commitment, we humbly and empathetically listen to their future struggles, we selflessly and sacrificially support them in times of need, and we wholeheartedly rejoice with them in times of celebration. From where we stand, we commit to do life with them.

Amid the chaos of choosing between a thousand different swatches of linens, of finding the perfect dress, of picking the perfect cake, and of locking down details of the perfect florals, menus, aesthetics, music, and everything else, we must remind ourselves of the love that warrants the craze in planning such a celebration in the first place. As we let go of our desire for perfection or our longing to control every detail to make sure everything goes exactly as planned, we must be reminded of the love that transcends perfection and surrenders to humility. As we begin to surrender to the will of things beyond our control, we may notice that this union glorifies a deeper meaning beyond anything that could be found in the events of a single day. When we open our hearts to this couple we adore, we witness the forming of a union between two imperfect people, honoring and bringing glory to a purely perfect entity and a wholly perfect God. So, as we celebrate with the couple, as family, as a member of the wedding party, or as a guest, we commit ourselves to support and join with all the sacrifices, desires, dreams, ambitions, achievements, and opportunities that this couple will undertake. As we witness the bride and groom vow to one another, we make our own vow to them, to strengthen, empower, equip, and encourage their union all the days of their lives.

While You Get to Where You’re Going

Sri Chinmoy once said, “Ours is a divine journey; therefore, this journey has neither a beginning nor an end… This journey has a goal, but it does not stop at any goal, for it has come to realise that today’s goal is only the starting point of tomorrow’s journey.” Whenever I am upset about something my mom always says to me, “Find something good about it; find something about it that you can take joy in.” Usually, this piece of advice only frustrates me more as I stew on what I think I deserve or how I believe I ought to be treated. I have often told her, “I don’t want you to tell me how I should be feeling. I just want you to listen to what I’m saying and agree with me.” More often than not, though, I find that when I am most frustrated that someone is not agreeing with my own thoughts or emotions, it is usually because they have advice worth heeding.

At the end of May, I will have been out of college for a full year. In these past nine months, I have experienced time both begrudgingly drag on and simultaneously speed up. At times, I feel like it was just yesterday where I confidently walked across my graduation stage, ready to take on the world with open arms. Since that moment, I feel like no time at all has passed, as I try to frantically plan out the course of my life. Other times, that moment feels like it had taken place centuries ago, as I impatiently wait for the pieces of my life to fall into place. This first year since graduating college has been filled with unparalleled, harsh, worthwhile, and redeeming lessons and realities. My circumstances have not always or not quite nearly aligned with my expectations. I failed, I got back up, I followed my heart, I created, I imagined, and I dreamed again. Throughout the lowest valleys, the points of disappointment, the heartbreak and, likely, the excitement, the joy, and the accomplishments, I have been learning over and over again to take my mom’s advice- I have been learning to let go.

Often, we find ourselves focused on the destination. Our circumstances do not meet our expectations. So, we tell ourselves that whenever we get to where we are going, we will be happy, fulfilled, that our souls will be satisfied, or that our lives will finally have meaning. We prize the end goal- a job everyone else covets, a perfect marriage, a complete family, an impressive degree, a magnificent home, an extravagant life. While we may accept that these goals of ours may not be easily handed to us, that we may have to work to achieve them, we are not always tolerant of any deviations on the road to obtaining our dreams. Somewhere along the way, we have convinced ourselves that the destination is more important than the roads and paths we take to get there. We forget about the value in getting to where we desire to be. But, when we become aware of our present circumstances and happenings, we begin to open our eyes to all we have to offer the world around us, despite where we think we should be or what we believe we should have achieved by now. Once we learn to let go of our expectations of our destinations, once we find joy amid the various bends and curves to our journey’s end, we will begin find value in our failed attempts, unmet expectations, unpredictable circumstances, harsh realities, and unachieved ambitions. When we open our eyes to wherever our feet are planted along our way to our self-defined success, we will embrace imperfection, we will be free of the weight of our own expectations, we will find the courage to surpass the limitations set before us, and we will become comfortable with resting in the “now.”

In every circumstance, situation, lesson, and reality that teaches us to rejoice in our own unique journeys, we will become more enlightened of our own strength. We may, then, see more clearly the value in each step we take towards the destination of our dreams. We may find that there is not a single experience, disappointment, failure, nor any setback that is wasted along the journey in which we undoubtedly learn about our incomparable and invincible nature. When we begin to embrace our journey, we will discover that while we have so much to offer the world, we, just the same, have so much to offer whatever reality we find ourselves in and whatever circumstance we find ourselves amid. So, while you get to where you are going, pause, breathe, let go, look around, embrace the present, and rejoice in the person you are wherever you find yourself along the way.

We are Family

Look after one another.

Marvin J. Ashton said, “If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.”

Cape Town is a very adventurous and outdoor-oriented city, so my housemates and I would often go on hikes, exploring the endless, breathtaking beauty surrounding us. On our hikes and adventures we would quite literally and physically have to look out for one another. This was made easier and came more naturally as we grew to know each other better. We knew which of us were afraid of heights, which of us got cranky the earliest, which of us were more prone to wandering, which of us were athletic, which of us were determined, which of us were opinionated, which of us were stubborn. We knew each other, so we were able to comprehensively look after one another.

When I first moved to Cape Town to study abroad, I was placed in a house full of people who were complete strangers to me; strangers with profoundly different experiences, wholly different upbringings, ways of life, ideas, opinions, passions, and dreams. I had not known them. I was unaware of what shaped them to be the people they are, the people that would be living with me, sharing a small space with me, for the next five months of my life. However, it did not take long before these people became my family, people I would deeply care for, people I would look out for. Soon enough, these were the people that I stood on the curb outside our house and cried with as we said, not our “goodbyes”, but our “see you laters”. We were the closest thing to a family that each of us had while being thousands of miles away from our actual families. We fought, we made up, we laughed, and cried together. We threatened to beat up anyone that hurt someone in our little family. We explored together. We experienced homesickness together and we helped each other adapt to an entirely different culture and an altogether different way of life. We helped each other process our emotions and experiences, and we leaned on one another for support. We opened up to one another, vulnerably exposed our hearts and souls to one another, and we trusted one another. As we continued to learn more about one another, we grew to selflessly and completely love one another. Throughout those five months, a group of complete strangers became a family.

I still would do anything for any one of these people. But, I know that my family continues to expand. You see, in every season of our lives, we open ourselves to receiving more family. The people placed in our lives throughout the various bends, curves, ebbs, and flows are intentional. We are surrounded with distinct people for a reason, and if we allow ourselves to be open to these people, we continue to build our families. As we continue to receive new family members, new friends, new loved ones, our hearts grow more protective, more compassionate. We learn, then, that only when we truly open ourselves to knowing the people in our lives better, to learning their stories, inquiring of their pasts, listening to their desires and dreams, we equip ourselves to love them better. We see that the more we understand one another, the more territory we are able to explore of each other’s pasts, passions, desires, hopes and dreams, the more deeply and profoundly we are able to care for one another.

As the end of my study abroad experience loomed nearer, I began to associate with the phrase, “Home is where the heart is.” More than a mere typography scribbled on a greeting card or a sentiment exposed through a nostalgic social media post, this phrase embodied everything I was feeling up to my departure. As I tried to make sense of my emotions, of leaving a place I had grown to love and had learned to call home, I came to realize that I was beginning to have many different homes. In all these homes, I had experiences that had shaped my life, I had grown in ways that I never expected, and I had learned to form families with the people around me. I began to realize that I might have different places that I would call home. I accepted the fact that my heart may forever be pulled in different directions. And, in all these different places that my heart would be drawn to, I would have families, people that I grew to trust and learned to adore. So, my home would not just be found in the places that my heart grew to love, but with the people that my heart related to; with various people that made up many different families I grew to adore.

We have the endless opportunity to continue to grow our families, as long as we regularly open our hearts to one another and intentionally invest in learning one another’s stories. Our hearts can grow to love and adorn many different homes that house many different families in every season of life. As we come and go, wander and explore, may we continue to open our hearts to those around us. May we open our eyes to the beauty we see in one another. May we bravely, unapologetically, and vulnerably form many different families in many different places that we call home. And may we continue to learn from our families, grow with our families, and better protect, advocate for, sacrifice for, and selflessly love each family that we form.